Each week our staff of film and TV experts surveys the entertainment landscape to select the ten best new/newish shows available for you to stream at home. We put a lot of thought into our selections, and our debates on what to include and what not to include can sometimes get a little heated and feelings may get hurt, but so be it, this is an important service for you, our readers. With that said, here are our selections for this week.
There are moments in the early stages of season two that feel like they’re doubling down on the show’s signature positivity and niceness, but there’s no such thing as sweetness overload here as the show grows our affection for characters that are clearly taking a step forward in their arcs. Especially Ted, even though it seems like there may be some challenges ahead. Watch it on Apple TV .
2. Outer Banks (Netflix)
Granted, the stills from this show make it look like your typical (beachy) teen drama, but that’s not the case. This is a mystery-based action thriller with a soapy residue, and although the main characters are, in fact teens, beware: once you start watching this show, you’ll want to set aside some time to finish the two seasons. There’s tons of intrigue and a hurricane and buried treasure, and it’s like National Treasure, if the main character was Young McConaughey-lite with dreams of tasty waves dashed by goons chasing him for [spoiler] reasons. There are Kooks and Pogues and dramatic rivalries, all of it ultimately silly yet far too entertaining.
Dave is a lot of things all at once. It’s childish and sweet, gross and thoughtful, powerfully weird but also extremely human. Mostly, though, it’s just funny. The series follows an aspiring rapper (Dave Burd aka Lil Dicky) as he attempts to make it big. There are cameos from huge stars and urological issues and awkward moments galore. It’s kind of like Curb Your Enthusiasm if that show was about a 20-something white rapper who had a hype man named GaTa. This is a compliment. Watch it on FXX and Hulu.
4. FBoy Island (HBO Max)
HBO Max’s latest reality show takes a question womankind has been asking since the dawn of time and turns it into a dating competition that, if you can believe it, lowers our collective opinion of men to shocking depths. Who’s a nice guy and who’s a f*ck boy? That’s up to the single women bamboozled into participating in this courtship farce to figure out as they frolic about a tropical paradise with me who blow-dry their beards and wear one-strap overalls unironically. This is what the Suffragettes died for, people. Watch it on HBO Max.
5. Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami (Netflix)
If you’re missing Narcos, rest assured that there’s so much blow in this docuseries, which gives the documentary treatment to the excess-filled life of two childhood pals who transformed into billionaire drug kingpins. There’s a tiger and bullfighting and speedboats and money flying everywhere, it’s no wonder why “Los Muchachos” were so darn popular. They were also slippery fellows, due to their world-champ powerboat-racing status. Watch it on Netflix.
Sketch comedy as a medium is a bit like baseball in that if you’re hitting above .300 it’s considered a success. I Think You Should Leave season one didn’t necessarily bat much higher than that, but became an instant cultural phenomenon thanks to hits that were so glorious and memorable that they almost instantly became memes. In season two, ITYSL has upped its average without losing its power. There’s hardly a dud in the entire first three episodes, which serve up unforgettable characters like the guy at the “adult” ghost tour who keeps asking about giant horse penises and obscene things the ghosts might be doing, and a recurring bit about Santa Claus as the hero of a reactionary movie series. Even the sketches that aren’t laugh-out-loud funny are still fascinatingly weird. Imagining Robinson pitching some of these ideas to another human is almost an I Think You Should Leave sketch unto itself — fitting perfectly into Robinson’s most frequent motif, of a clumsy oddball trying desperately to stifle his inner weirdness and failing miserably. Watch it on Netflix.
7. The White Lotus (HBO Max)
HBO’s The White Lotus hails from Mike White, the School of Rock screenwriter who also created one of the network’s most brilliantly underrated shows in Enlightened. This limited series, about the staff and guests of a tropical resort starring Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, and Steve Zahn, looks like another winner. Watch it on HBO Max.
8. Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union (HBO Max)
Barack Obama turns 60 years old this week, which seems impossible. He’s the fresh-faced, young senator from Illinois! Another thing that seems impossible: that there hasn’t been a definitive documentary about America’s first Black president — until now. HBO’s Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union is a three-part series from Emmy-winner Peter Kunhardt that chronicles “the personal and political journey” of Obama. It’s impossible to contextualize the significance of Obama’s two terms as president in only six hours, but through interviews with author Ta-Nehisi Coates and professor Cornel West, among many others, the documentary is a notable (and highly watchable) effort. Watch it on HBO Max.
9. Gossip Girl (HBO Max)
Few shows have influenced the cultural lexicon of an entire generation the way this soapy teen drama did. The original Gossip Girl was a narrative rollercoaster filled with questionable hookups, designer drugs, and Blair Waldorf headbands. It delighted in its ostentatious antics, reveled in its misbehaving brood of well-bred socialites. It made Chuck Bass, an attempted rapist and sex club owner who might have murdered his father and definitely pimped out his girlfriend for a stake in a hotel, a romantic lead. The original Gossip Girl had balls, gilded storytelling balls. Its successor, this HBO Max contemporary shows shades of that same promise. It’s got a cast that’s both believably diverse and unbelievable gorgeous, tons of pop-cultured-skewed wit, a driving rivalry, and Kristen Bell once again narrating those welcome Upper East Side scandals, but it’s a little too self-aware and overly-earnest to be as enjoyable as its predecessor. Then again, it took the O.G. Gossip Girl a few seasons before it sent one of its own to Jesus Camp and brought characters back from the dead, so this new crew has time. Watch it on HBO Max.
10. (tie) UFO (Showtime)
Earlier this summer, the U.S. government’s so-called comprehensive report on Unidentified Flying Objects revealed, uh, nothing. Enter J.J. Abrams with this docuseries to dig into the cultural touchpoints of the very pressing UFO issue and who might be hiding the truth, if it’s “out there.” Since this is coming from Abrams (Cloverfield, Super 8), it’s difficult to know whether to expect a levelheaded tone or whether Fox Mulder would dig it. Watch it on Showtime.
10. (tie) Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage (HBO Max)
The original Woodstock, held back in 1969, was an extended tribute to peace and love and extremely good vibes. The Woodstock held in 1999, 30 years later and featuring famously chill acts like Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock, had… oh, let’s say “less good vibes.” But what it lacked in vibes it made up with, uh, more uncontrolled fires. And violence. And portable toilet fiascos. It was a mess, as you can see when you watch this HBO docuseries about the whole thing, featuring Uproxx’s music critic and fiasco expert Steven Hyden. Watch it on HBO.
10. (tie) Cooking With Paris (Netflix)
The skeptics among us might take one look at Paris Hilton’s new anti-aspirational Netflix cooking show and deem it just another entry in the “celebrities can’t cook” genre, of which Ludacris and Selena Gomez are ranking members. But those of us who remember that glorious moment in TV’s Golden Age, when Hilton used an iron to sizzle a slab of bacon, fry an egg sunny side up, and toast a cheese quesadilla before garnishing her brunch masterpiece with some boxed fruit loops know … this is a woman with a distinct culinary vision, and it’s on full display in this new series as she invites everyone from Demi Lovato to Kim Kardashian to witness her disturbed gastronomic genius. Ina Garten better guard her bag. Watch it on Netflix.